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As Doc Brown from Back to the Future once said, “Roads?!? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!!!” What we mean is get off the asphalt covered highways and explore some of the established dirt trails. While the wintry mountain tops are covered in a white blanket of snow, it’s also a great time to go four-wheeling in the foothills. Even though most parts of the country must wait until spring to enjoy tacky dirt, the lower elevations in the Sierra Nevada have some of the best winter 4X4 trails out there.

Don’t own a truck or have any idea where to start? Well, check out one of these outfitters providing everything from rentals to tours for some off roading in the High Sierra. And before heading out for the OHV trails, become familiar with OHV laws, restrictions, and closures. Respect private property, wildlife and other forest visitors. For more information on how you can Tread Lightly while using your OHV, follow this link.

Yosemite Area

Off Roading In The High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

Although you can’t go off roading in the park itself, let alone mountain bike in it, you CAN do it just outside the boundaries in the Sierra National Forest. Sierra Nevada Motor Sports, located in Oakhurst, provides an assortment of options such as renting ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) or even a guided tour to places like the Bass Lake Vista or even the Nelder Grove to see one of the last vestiges of a Sequoia grove outside of a national park. And if you feel like checking out snow instead, they even provide tours via their snow track.

Owens Valley

off roading in the High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: Visit Bishop

Bishop is at the north end of the Owens Valley – A rugged, rocky area filled with miles and miles of dirt roads and jeep tracks that you can access yourself. You’ll feel like you’re in another world – surrounded by the natural beauty of wide-open spaces, snowy peaks, and babbling creeks. GSC Off Road Adventures will gear you up with a ROV (recreational off-highway vehicle) and set you off to some fun.

For more about off roading adventures in Bishop, check out their 48 hour itinerary to get down & dirty.

Mammoth Region

minaret vista visit mammoth snowmobiling in the high sierra
Image appears courtesy: Visit Mammoth

In Mammoth Lakes and want to take a break from world-class skiing? Depending on the type of adrenaline your looking for, you can either set off on snowmobile or head down into the Inyo National Forest just outside of Bishop on an off-road vehicle. Sierra Engines offers up ATV, side by side, dirt bike, kayak and snowmobile rentals & service to make sure you have the fun YOU want.

For more about heading off the paved path in Mammoth Lakes & surrounding areas, check out off roading in Mammoth Lakes.

It’s easy to see that there’s a lot of four-wheeling fun to be had in the High Sierra this winter. So, get off the beaten path & explore the rugged side of the Sierra Nevada. You won’t regret it!

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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